Joshua Beckford has a dream to change the world. Although his journey is still very far away, yet the milestones that this boy with autism has achieved speak a lot about his caliber. At the age of 6, he has already become the youngest person ever to attend the prestigious Oxford University.
He was awarded a certificate of excellence after securing distinctions in courses related to Philosophy and History at Oxford. Apart from that, his name was also included in the list of top 30 most remarkable people in the world with Autism.
Emerging from Tottenham, the story of his learning capabilities began when Joshua’s father, Knox Daniel, saw his son taking a keen interest in the computer while sitting in his lap. Joshua was just 10 months old and he was too quick to learn all the letters on keyboard up front.
“I started telling [Joshua] what the letters on the keyboard were and I realized that he was remembering and could understand. So, if I told him to point to a letter, he could do it… Then we moved on to colors,” Daniel added.
Beckford was able to use phonics fluently at the age of three and could even speak good Japanese. Moreover, he learned how to touch-type on a computer before writing anything on a notebook.
“Since the age of four, I was on my dad’s laptop and it had a body simulator where I would pull out organs,” said Beckford.
Back in 2011, Knox came to know about the special programme at Oxford University designed for children between the age of eight and thirteen. He thought of challenging his son and wrote to Oxford for the admission of his child even before the prescribed age.
Considering the intelligence level of Beckford, he was given an opportunity to become the youngest student at Oxford.
However, parenting Joshua was never an easy task with high-functioning autism. He was way ahead of a standard curriculum and therefore had to be home-schooled.
“Joshua doesn’t like children of his own age and only likes teenagers and adults.
“Parenting a child with high-functioning autism comes with its own challenges,” his father added.
“[Joshua] doesn’t like loud noises and always walks on his tip toes and he always eats from the same plate, using the same cutlery, and drinks from the same cup,” he said.
Beckford has a keen interest in the history of Egypt and is also currently working on a children’s book about the ancient nation.
Putting academic accolades aside, Joshua also represents the National Autistic Society’s Black and Minority campaign, which highlights the challenges faced by his fellows living with autism to acquire support and funds.
Recently, he was given more responsibility in Low-Income Families Education (L.I.F.E) as well where he now serves as a Support Ambassador for Boys Mentoring Advocacy Network in Nigeria, Uganda, Ghana, South Africa, Kenya and the United Kingdom.
The world first got to witness his ideas, which he expressed in a beautiful poem, in the middle of his talk about Saving Mother Earth at the TEDx International Conference in Vienna.
Joshua wants to be a neurosurgeon and there is no doubt in the fact with such brilliant boys, the future of the world is in safe hands.
“I want to save the earth. I want to change the world and change peoples’ ideas to doing the right things about earth,” Beckford once said of his future.